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Court strikes down election lawsuits

By Christina Tashkevich
Thursday, January 17

Tbilisi City Court has rejected four lawsuits seeking to annul the final results of the January 5 presidential election.

The nine-party opposition coalition, the Labor Party, the campaign of tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili and a teachers’ trade union each filed the suits separately on January 15. The court took less than a day to toss them out, with the Constitutional Court issuing an explanatory statement yesterday to say that “neither the procedural nor factual violations presented in the lawsuits were confirmed.”

On January 13, the Central Election Commission officially confirmed the reelection of Mikheil Saakashvili in an election the opposition claims was rigged. International observers said the election was essentially fair, but with many violations.

Labor leaders blamed the court’s decision on the partiality of the Georgian judiciary.

“We’ll continue fighting against the anti-national [Saakashvili] regime,” Labor leader Kakha Dzagania told the Russian news agency Interfax.

The opposition coalition has also vowed to continue contesting the election results, with several of their leaders speaking of a civil disobedience campaign if the courts rule against them.

Constitutional Court judge Nino Kadagidze said yesterday that the courts have been criticized for ruling on election complaints in a “very tight timeframe.” However, she dismissed the criticism as “ungrounded” given the deluge of lawsuits before the courts and the necessity for timely rulings.

“Complaints seeking to annul election results from 34 election districts and 435 precincts have been filed,” Kadagidze said at a press briefing.

According to a Constitutional Court statement released yesterday, there have been 62 election lawsuits brought to first instance courts.

Only 38 of those lawsuits have been reviewed. Kadagidze said many of the lawsuits violated procedural rules, and therefore could not be heard by a court.

The Constitutional Court’s statement said that other cases revolved around precinct-level irregularities which were confirmed, but had no effect on actual election results.

The Constitutional Court also reported that many plaintiffs had withdrawn their lawsuits. Out of 21 complaints filed in Zugdidi, the statement specified, all but two were withdrawn.

Courts have so far annulled results from eight precincts, and the Central Election Commission has annulled results from at least five.